Here’s a real cool find. In this video from 1985, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen shows and talks about several of the guitars in his collection, including some of his custom models, like his Hamer five-neck (of which he has three) and his “Uncle Dick” double-neck. He also shows three Les Paul Bursts, one of his two original Gibson Explorers and numerous other gems.
The clip was created by reporter Mary Robb Jackson of Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV when Cheap Trick rolled into town on what would have been the tour for their 1985 album, Standing on the Edge. The album featured the single “Tonight It’s You,” a Number Eight Mainstream Rock Chart hit.
The video begins with the edited broadcast clip, after which you get nearly seven minutes of raw footage in which Nielsen gives a show-and-tell of his assembled guitars. (You can skip to about 1:48 to get right to the raw footage.)
Nielsen reveals that he has “about 160 guitars. That’s more than the normal quota for most people. But look, you’re in TV so you probably have 150 cameras!”
He shows a 1960 Les Paul, of which he has three in the room, including a second 1960 and a 1959. “They cost 265 dollars new,” he says. “And now—it’s like collecting anything—some of these are worth six, seven thousand bucks apiece.” (Ah, memories!)
Around the 4:30 mark, you can spot a Gibson Moderne, most certainly a 1980 reissue (though given Nielsen’s extensive collection of rarities, you just never know).
At 5:40 you can see one of his Gibson Explorers. “They only made 17 of these in 1958, and I own two of them,” he says. “As you can see, it’s real beat-up, but these things are worth about 10,000 dollars apiece.
“So it’s sort of like carrying a little museum along with you.”
Asked by Jackson why he collects, Nielsen remarks, “I do it because I enjoy it, and to me they’re like these old thing. They’re works of art.
“It’s like having a fiberglass ’55 T-bird or having a real ’55 T-bird. There’s a lot of difference.”
Take a look, and enjoy.